Keyport, Matawan, Eagles continuewinning ways Keyport, Matawan, Eagles continue winning ways By tim morris Staff Writer CHRIS KELLY Keyport’s Brian Mueller chases down Shore Regional quarterback John Vaccarelli during Saturday’s Red Raider win in West Long Branch. In a back-and-forth, momentum-swinging game, Middletown North had one last opportunity to grasp victory from the jaws of defeat. Equally aware of that was the Howell High School defense. It had spent the fourth quarter protecting a 25-20, and, with time winding down, the Rebel D was asked to make one more stop. A 10-yard run from Dennis Freshnock and a nine-yard pass play from sub quarterback Dennis Bozard to James Corcoran had taken the ball up to the Lion 39-yard line. There was less than 30 seconds left, but the Lions were moving, and in a game that had featured everything from called-back touchdowns, inadvertent whistles and eight turnovers, anything seemed possible. That’s when defensive end Matt Metta stepped up and made the play the Rebels needed. He broke through the Lions’ line to sack Bozard and take all the momentum away. With no time-outs left, the Lions were to rush to the line and get one last play off, a completed pass to Kyle Haran that had no chance of going anywhere. “It was all adrenaline,” Metta said after the game of his sack. “We knew that we had to make a play. My job was containment against the run, but when I saw him go back in the pocket, I went for the quarterback.” The defensive stand helped the Rebels complete a comeback. The Rebels trailed 14-0 in a blink of the eye in the first half, went ahead 19-14 at the half, then fell behind 20-19 only to come back one more time to win it 25-20 and improve to 2-1 on the season, while the Lions fell to 0-3. Two teams desperately in search of a victory figured to play a close game and that is exactly what happened at Middletown South High School. (North’s field is being refurbished this year and the Lions must play their home games at South.) The Lions, led by their brilliant, ball-faking option quarterback Rob Molinaro jumped out to a 14-0 lead. A 45-yard punt return by Matt Fix set the Lions up for their first touchdown, a 12-yard run from Molinaro. Molinaro, as nifty a ball-faker running the option as there is in the Shore, gave Howell trouble all night, although he would leave late in the third quarter after injuring his right ankle. North struck quickly again when Jesse Evans recovered a fumble on the Howell 37. It took one play for Molinaro to run the option for a touchdown. Howell began its comeback using the arm of Dan Irvin. A tripping penalty moved the ball deep into Lion territory, and on third-and-10 Irvin found Brian Smith on a 18-yard scoring strike, cutting the lead to 14-7 after one quarter. Howell struck twice in the second quarter to take the lead. Terrence Tatum did the heavy work in a 73-yard drive, picking up 37 of the yards on the ground, including the last four for a touchdown. The key of the drive, though, was a fourth-down pass of 15 yards from Irvin to Smith. The extra point kick was wide and North clung to a 14-13 lead. However, the Rebels weren’t done yet. Getting the ball with 1:15 remaining in the half, the team marched 77 yards, the last 50 a beautiful strike from Irvin to Mike Russell, who had gotten beyond the Lion defensive backs. Irvin hit Russell in stride. The try for two failed, but Howell still led 19-14. Molinaro, who ran for 185 yards total, went 42 yards to complete a 68-yard drive to start the second half. Howell regained the lead later in the quarter when Lou Sorrentino pounced on a Lion fumble, giving the Rebels the ball in North territory at the 32-yard line. On third-and-eight, Irvin connected with Matt Maniscalco, who had found a seam in the Lion defense for the first down. But Maniscalco turned it into a 27-yard scoring play, and the Rebels were back on top 25-20. The fourth quarter saw both teams fumble away scoring chances, and it came down to one last defensive stand. North will look to turn things around on Saturday when they take on a very good Toms River South team coming off a 29-12 win over Lacey. It will be yet another tough test for the Lions. Game time is 7 p.m. in Toms River. The Colts Neck Cougars played a near perfect game in beating Mater Dei 21-0 on Saturday to get to 3-0 on the year. And they’ll need some more of the same type of play this weekend if they hope to remain perfect for another week. The Cougars continued their dominating play, while the Seraphs struggled for the third week in a row to match up with a bigger and deeper team. Colts Neck scored on its first possession, then again in the second quarter to get in front, then benefited from five Mater Dei turnovers to keep the Seraph offense out of the end zone. Mater Dei will look to get in the win column on Saturday when they travel to Rumson to take on the Bulldogs. Rumson is coming off an impressive 42-7 win over defending National Division-champion Freehold Borough, and appears to have recuperated from its week one loss to Colts Neck. Game time is 1 p.m. There are now only two undefeated teams in the National Division, and they will square off on Saturday when the Keyport Red Raiders bring their high-powered offense to Colts Neck in a battle for division supremacy. Keyport has been superb in the early going, and continued to play near flawless football in a 42-7 romping of Shore Regional on Saturday. Coach Mike Ciccotelli’s squad has one of the Shore’s premier rushing attacks this year, led by junior tailback Ken Cattouse. Cattouse was unstoppable again against Shore, rushing for 160 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone, en route to a 224-yard day. He led a Keyport offense which was clicking on all cylinders, while the defense was equally impressive, not allowing a Shore first down until the last minute of the third quarter. Through three games, Keyport has looked like a championship-caliber team, though this weekend’s test against Colts Neck will be their toughest to date. The winner of Saturday’s game will get a leg up in the division race, and will officially establish itself as the team to beat. Game time is 1:30 p.m. The Matawan Huskies notched their second win of the year, blanking the winless St. John Vianney Lancers, 31-0. Matawan got 180 yards rushing from tailback Tom Corley (180 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries) and a solid all-around game from quarterback A.J. Roque offensively, while the defense stifled the Lancer attack to the tune of 82 total yards of offense. Matawan appears to have recovered from the tough loss to top-ranked Wall Township in week three action, but faces a stiff test on Saturday when they travel to Freehold to take on the Colonials. Matawan is a bigger and deeper team than the Colonials, but cannot take anything for granted against a team that has shown a knack for springing a big upset the last few seasons. Game time is 1:30 p.m. As for Vianney, they will take on an 0-3 Point Boro team on Friday that is coming off a 21-7 loss to Wall. This game should present the Lancers with a good chance at notching their first win of the year. Game time is 7 p.m. in Holmdel. The Middletown South football team got a key interception from Steve Kirk in the second quarter of its game against Long Branch on Saturday, and then capitalized on it two plays later with a four-yard TD run from freshman Knowshon Moreno. From there, it was all defense. The Eagle D was simply dominant, holding the Green Wave offense to just 73 total yards and three first downs, as they made the 7-0 lead hold up, and got the Eagles an all-important second win of the year. In a game featuring two solid teams which are very familiar with one another, the Eagles’ defensive players stepped up, playing in a way that was reminiscent of last year’s CJ Group III championship squad. Coach Steve Antonucci’s team kept itself in the Federal Division title hunt with the win, and more importantly, played the type of smart, disciplined football we’ve come to expect from them. They’ll look for more of the same on Friday when they take on a Holmdel squad that has really struggled so far this season. The young Hornets dropped to 0-3 on the year after a 41-12 loss to Monmouth Regional on Friday night in Holmdel. Monmouth jumped ahead early and never looked back, while the Hornet offense continued to have trouble getting anything going. They managed to score their first points of the season late in the fourth quarter, then found the end zone again following a botched Monmouth punt in the game’s waning seconds, but for the most part, Holmdel struggled against a swarming Monmouth D for the entire game. It won’t get any easier for the Hornets this week either as they travel to the Swamp to take on one of the Shore’s top defensive teams. Game time is 7 p.m. The Raritan Rockets dropped their first game of the year on Saturday, losing a 33-6 contest to the third-ranked Manasquan Warriors. The Rockets opened the game in impressive fashion, driving to the Manasquan four-yard line behind the passing of freshman quarterback Andrew Mandeville. However, the drive stalled there, and the Warriors rode the momentum to four unanswered touchdowns to blow the game open. Manasquan used a balanced offensive attack to move the ball, while the Raritan offense struggled to regain the efficiency it opened the game with. Mike Fabozzi prevented the shutout when he scored a touchdown on the final play of the game, but it was little reward for a good Raritan team that had dreams of an upset. Coach Derek Sininsky’s squad will look to get to 3-1 on Friday when it hosts Long Branch. Game time is 7 p.m. By tim morrisStaff Writer
Nationals are next for BCC five By tim morris Staff Writer CHRIS KELLY Brookdale’s Mark Kelly launches a shot during the Jersey Blues’ home win on Sunday. Paul Cisek had a good feeling about his 2002-03 Brookdale Community College basketball team from the start of the season. He liked the sophomore leadership of players like Chris Brown, Dennis DelliSanti and Bobby Varno, and how tight-knit the club was. He also liked the athleticism under the basket that freshman Miguel Rodriguez provided, and the way his team played defense. He also liked the way that everyone was committed to winning and didn’t care about individual stats. In the end, it was all the ingredients for a Region XIX championship team. The Jersey Blues rewarded the confidence that Cisek had in his club by capturing the school’s first-ever Region basketball crown. Brookdale defeated Keystone (Pa.) College, 76-67, on Sunday in Lincroft to advance to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III championships, set for March 13-15 in Delhi, N.Y. “This is the greatest time I’ve ever had playing basketball,” said Brown, named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. “The last two games, we’ve been so pumped up. We told ourselves we didn’t want to stop playing. We wanted to take it to the nationals.” To do that, Brookdale (27-4) had to hold off two second-half charges from the defending Region champions from Keystone (20-8) before securing the elusive crown. The first rally, from 17 down, pulled Keystone within 50-48 halfway through the second half. Brown scored on a big put-back that led to a 13-6 surge and a 63-54 lead. Still, the Blues were not out of the woods. The three-point shooting for Jajuan Davis and Darice Venson led to one more comeback. With 1:51 remaining, two free throws from Davis made it 65-63 Brookdale. Mark Kelly then scored on a tough running one-hander off the glass in the lane to build the lead to 67-63. Varno and Kelly would then ice the game from the foul line, building the lead back to nine. “In the beginning of the season we didn’t think we’d ever pull it off,” Brown said. “After our first game with Ocean, I knew we were going to jell. “Defense has been the big key for us,” he added. Defense and rebounding proved to be the difference for Brookdale, as Cisek thought it might, in the final. The Blues were able to overcome an off night, shooting by crashing the offensive boards, led by Rodriguez and Brown, and getting second and third chances. They held Keystone to one-and-done on the defensive end as Rodriguez pulled down every errant shot (he had 18 rebounds for the game). Their team effort on defense held Keystone to just 25 points in the first half, allowing the team to get out to a 36-25 cushion. Varno paced the Jersey Blues with 21 points, followed by MVP Brown, who netted 20. Varno and Brown each nailed three three-pointers. Rodriguez had 14 to go along with his 18 boards, and Kelly netted 14, including a pair of threes. Brookdale won its first Region title the hard way, by having to win four games last week. They were seeded second in the GSAC South Division and had to play on Feb. 24 against seventh-seeded Burlington. Brown had 20 points, Kelvin DeLosAngeles had 18 and Rodriguez had 17 rebounds in a 115-72 romp. Brown scored 25 as Brookdale beat Camden, 90-69, in the South Division semifinals last Wednesday night. Friday night the Jersey Blues won the rubber match against top-seeded Gloucester for the playoff title, and the right to play against the GSAC North champion for the Regional title. Gloucester and Brookdale split their two regular season games with Gloucester, winning the regular season title by one game. All that didn’t matter on Friday as Brookdale’s 85-72 win sent the six-time Region champions packing. Brown (19) and Kelly (18) combined for 37. Brown said the home court proved helpful to Brookdale’s title quest. “The crowds were huge for us,” he said. “It benefited us.” MVP Brown scored 84 points during the tournament, averaging 21 a game. He and Rodriguez were both named to the all-Region XIX and all-GSAC South teams. By tim morrisStaff Writer Nationals are nextfor BCC five
Brookdale Community College head baseball coach Johnny Johnson and New York Mets East Coast Scout Joe Nigro take a moment to get away from the action at the Mets Invitation Only tryouts at the Lincroft school’s campus on Aug. 5. Brookdale Community College was the host for the recent New York Mets’ Invitation Only tryouts. The Mets invited the top high school juniors of 2003 and some college-bound players from the tristate area to the Lincroft campus on Aug. 5 to get a pre-draft look at the prospects. The players were put through a variety of drills at their respective positions (outfield/infield/catcher/pitcher) and a timed 60-yard dash so that the Mets could get an idea of what players to look for during the 2004 scholastic and college seasons. Among the more than 60 players invited to the Lincroft campus was Brick’s Robbie Heins, who will be playing for Brookdale this coming season. The Mets chose Lincroft because of the connection between the club’s East Coast scout, Joe Nigro, and the BCC coaching staff. “I’ve known Joe for years,” said the Jersey Blues’ manager Johnny Johnson. “He’s knows his baseball and is one of the top scouts. “My assistant coach, John Wells, works with Nigro,” he added. The Mets had wanted to use Shea Stadium for the tryouts, but it was unavailable, as was the Brooklyn Cyclones home field. Johnson and Wells suggested to Nigro that he could use the Brookdale facilities for the tryouts, and the Mets’ scout agreed. The tryouts had something in it for Brookdale, also. It allowed the best high school players to get a first-hand look at the college and its baseball facilities. It served as a recruiting forum for the Jersey Blues. “The main reason I wanted the Mets to use the field was to showcase our field to the top players from the tristate area,” said Johnson. “I got a couple of inquires from parents.” Since the baseball program started in 1971 under Paul MacLaughlin, it has established a national reputation. The Blues have won countless Garden State Athletic Conference and Region XIX titles, and have frequently been the Junior College World Series (most recently, 2002, under Johnson) and have had Major League stars such as Denny Walling and John “the Count” Montefusco come up through the program. — Tim Morris
BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer BY WARREN RAPPLEYEAStaff Writer After a series of successful years and three consecutive NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I playoff berths, things looked bleak for the Keyport High School field hockey team as it prepared for the season. In fact, it looked like the Red Raiders would not even field a team. At the first meeting for players, only six turned out. Dismayed, coach Sal Principe started working the phones. He called all incoming freshman girls, as well as a host of others, asking them to try out. Many said they would consider it. When tryouts began, Principe had plenty of girls show up, including 18 freshmen and nine sophomores, along with a handful of senior newcomers. Many of these girls had never played field hockey before, but they took to the sport and stuck it out – enough so that Principe gave out 36 uniforms, filling both the varsity and JV rosters. “When you get a group like this, you’re not going to square one you’re going to square zero,” he said. “We have done a lot of teaching, and the girls are working hard. I see a tremendous amount of potential after just five weeks, but they all know that to make this work they have to continue working hard all year-round.” With nine starters and a reserve lost to graduation, the Red Raiders fielded a rather inexperienced lineup and struggled out of the gate with a 0-5 start. The coach continually encouraged his crew, and Keyport posted its first win a week ago, a 1-0 triumph over Roselle Park. Bridget McCann scored the lone goal and goalie Megan Kelly made it stand up. The Red Raiders gained their second win Saturday with a 2-1 overtime success against Mater Dei. McCann scored during regulation on a penalty corner and Sabrina Kemp netted the game-winner in the extra session. “It was great for the girls’ confidence to get a few wins,” Principe said. “They’ve really improved and they’re starting to see the results. They’re going to continue to improve and they should get some more wins.” Kemp and Kelly have been the mainstays. Kemp leads the team in scoring with three goals and an assist, while Kelly has been splendid in goal as Keyport has been regularly outshot in the early going. Jenna Stumpf has played well as has fellow senior Jessie Carroll, a forward. Steph Capone, a senior fullback, has been playing through a sore ankle. Other seniors include wings Jessica Walling and Gabrielle Santopietro and fullbacks Ashley Steffens and Heather Woolley, who missed most of last season with a foot injury. McCann and link Soraya Quezada, both juniors, also play key roles and are expected to be team leaders next fall. Sophomore link Damara Viray has displayed some impressive stick-handling to go with good speed. Violet Ries and Anna Czech, both sophs, are fullbacks. Brittany Pompliano, Justina White and Brandi Yard, who can all play link, and fullback Jenna Ruge are all seeing playing time. Principe was also impressed with the play of his freshmen, most of whom are playing for the JV, although Stephanie Kaplan joins the varsity as a reserve netminder. The coach said he’s hoping to schedule a few freshmen-only games for his JV group. “There’s a lot to work with and, hopefully, over the next three years the girls will put in the time and effort,” Principe said. “They’re raw with a capital ‘R’, but there’s a lot of athletic ability and desire. I think they can accomplish a lot if they stick with it.”
BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer Mater Dei High School softball coach Jeanne Dickinson has been noting her team’s defensive strengths throughout the campaign – and those were quite apparent during the Seraphs’ 11-2 victory over Montclair Kimberley Academy in the NJSIAA Non- Public B title game. JEFF GRANIT staff Mater Dei High School shortstop Lauren Florio makes a catch against Montclair Kimberley Academy in her team’s 11-2 victory in the NJSIAA Non-Public B championship. The triumph was Mater Dei’s first and it came against a team that had won four successive Group titles and appeared a heavy favorite entering the game. Dickinson’s club has been stellar in the field throughout the campaign, boasting a .975 fielding percentage. The D, however, has been a bit overshadowed thanks to the outstanding pitching of Sara Cline, who was brilliant in shutting down St. Joseph’s of Hammonton in the Non-Public B South championship on June 2 to propel her team into the Non- Public B final. Cline permitted more base runners than usual in the championship game, but the Seraphs defense made the plays behind her and Montclair Kimberley ended up leaving 12 runners on base. “The girls made the plays, just like they have been doing all season long,” said Dickinson, who embraced Mater Dei’s underdog status to fire up her team. “That’s what I’ve come to expect.” Ironically, the best play came following a Mater Dei error. With the bases loaded with one out in the top of the fifth inning, Cline fielded a roller and tossed to catcher Erin Carroll for a force at the plate. Carroll, looking to complete a double play, threw the ball to first. The throw, however, went into right field, where hustling Lauren McKeown tracked it down and came up throwing. McKeown’s throw back to Carroll nailed a Cougars runner trying to score from second base to end the inning. Mater Dei, meanwhile, was stymied for the first three innings. However, the second time through the lineup the Seraphs broke through against Molly Herforth, Montclair Kimberley’s top pitcher. Dickinson’s team scored four times in the fourth inning to build a 5-1 lead. Cline, who drove in five runs on the day and has 22 RBIs on the year, doubled in a pair of runs, and Carroll followed with a single that brought home two more runs. Center fielder Danielle Murphy pounded out three doubles and scored three times. The victory followed Mater Dei’s exciting 1-0 win over St. Joseph’s of Hammonton in the Non-Public B South final last Tuesday. Cline was masterful, tossing 9 2/3 innings of hitless ball, while striking out 10. McKeown scored the winning run on a close play at the plate following Elyse Parker’s dribbler back to the pitcher. McKeown started the inning on second base as a result of the international tiebreaker rule. Cline faced the same situation in the bottom of the tenth. The runner tried to advance to third on a grounder back to Cline, who threw to first for the out. First baseman Elyse Parker threw across the diamond to Tess Gagliano at third to get the runner. “This is a strong all-around team,” Dickinson said. “We have good pitching, good fielding and good hitting. That’s a tough combination to beat. Everyone has been contributing. They deserve the success they’ve had.
I n a nondivisional wrestling match on Jan. 5, Raritan High School defeated Long Branch, 36-23. The Green Wave’s loss was its first against a Shore Conference opponent since 2007.Long Branch, one of the top teams in the state the last three seasons, had won 58 consecutive matches within the conference. “Long Branch has had a good rivalry with us,” said Raritan head coach Rob Nucci, who is in his 10th season as head coach and recently posted his 200th career win.“We are starting to gel. We are wrestling better,” Nucci said.Raritan has proved to be a formidable team in the Shore Conference, making their win over Long Branch less of a surprise. After Long Branch’s Jake George (152) defeated Steve Corona, 13-6, Raritan took control with pins by Joe Masi (160) and Ryan Lynch (171).Vin Masi (112) defeated Romulo Garcia, 5-2, to bring the Rockets closer to victory. The team secured the win in the next match when sophomoreAnthony Scarcella defeated Luke Balina, 8-4, after initially falling behind. Vic Ianello (189), Matt Lindo (103), Nick Liguori (125), Jason Bohal (130) and Brian French (145) also posted wins for Raritan.“It’s all about gaining confidence,” Nucci said. “When the kids realize how good they are, they do even better. They just need to say to themselves, ‘I can go with the big dogs.’ ”After snow disrupted the team’s schedule prior to the match against Long Branch, Nucci said, Raritan had to regain focus while trying to get back into a routine.“It gotmessy with the snow, but we are in a routine now,” he said.On Jan. 8, Raritan won the Henry Boresch Duals tournament at Newton High School with wins over Kingsway, Boonton and Newton.“Things are going pretty well right now,” Nucci said.Following the tournament championship, Raritan defeated Middlesex and St. John Vianney but lost to Governor Livingston at home to fall to 7-2 overall, but the Rockets are 3-0 and in first place in A Central.Earlier this week, the Rockets were scheduled to play two matches in as many days. They faced JFK on Tuesday and Wall on Wednesday. BYMATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent
By WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent Middletown High School South’s Sarah Corey slides safely under the tag of Steinert High School catcher Madison Balke to score a run during the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III championship game May 29 in Middletown. The Eagles soared to the championship with a 3-0 win over Steinert. STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR It’s familiar territory for Middletown High School South’s softball team against a familiar opponent with two huge games on back-to-back days this week: the NJSIAA Group III semifinals and the Shore Conference Tournament finals.Coach Tom Erbig is not shy about tackling that challenge in a 24-hour span.“This is what we prepare for all season long. That’s why we go outside our division and play teams like Nutley and Mount St. Dominic,” said Erbig, whose team, which is 26-4 with 14 straight victories, nailed down another Shore Conference A North Division championship. “They’re responding better than at the beginning of the season. They’re playing as well as they can right now in a championship-caliber season.”The Eagles are back in the hunt for the Group III state championship after claiming their 15th Central Jersey championship in 19 trips. They beat Steinert High School, 3-0, for this year’s sectional title May 29 behind a three-hitter by pitcher Maddy McMahon, who secured the Eagles’ third straight shutout, and run-scoring hits from Julia Blarr, Ciara Sullivan and Tiffany Lambert.Next up was Delsea Regional High School in a Group III semifinals showdown June 2 at Rowan College in Gloucester County. The winner advances to the state finals June 5 at Kean University.A victory June 2 would advance the Eagles to the state finals they previously reached in three straight years, winning back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010 and losing in 2011.The day after the Delsea game, Middletown South will take the field at Wall for a showdown against Middletown High School North for the Shore Conference Tournament title. Middletown South is 7-7 in Shore Conference Tournament finals, capturing its last title in 1996 against St. John Vianney High School and losing in the next two trips since then — in 2011 to St. John Vianney and 2009 to Red Bank Catholic High School.An all-Middletown final in the conference tournament previously took place in 1984. Middletown South won that game. Middletown North poses a formidable challenge this time at 22-6 with eight wins in its last nine games. It split the two regularseason games against Middletown South, losing the first, 11-2, and beating Middletown South in the second game, 6-4, April 30.Middletown North stunned previously unbeaten St. John Vianney, 2-0, in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals, as Milena Wilton lined a two-run single in the fifth inning and Riley Kernan scattered six hits.McMahon will be on the mound for these games for Middletown South, and Lambert will be ready if called upon. They shared time on the mound earlier in the season.“We’re riding her. She’s hot and keeps the runners off the bases,” Erbig said of McMahon. “She hits locations instead of where [hitters] want it.” As for Lambert, who is headed to St. Peter’s University, Erbig said, “We’ll bring her in if we need someone to throw differently. Maddy throws hard. Tiffany doesn’t get the strikeouts but throws off-speed and gets the ball hit, and we’ve been making the plays.”They have taken leads early in games, which has made life easier for the pitching that has nailed down a dozen shutouts. Credit that to a lineup that has been on a tear, typified in a Shore Conference Tournament semifinal victory, 11-0, May 30 over Matawan Regional High School and a 7-0, no-hitter against Raritan High School, as third baseman Blarr and Lambert each drove in two runs as the hottest hitters, along with Sullivan and second baseman Nikki Curran. Even catcher Hannah Wisialko has found her swing of late. They’ve all been making plays in the field smoothly along with shortstop Alex Corrigan, who is headed to Fairfield University. Middletown North swung hot bats in a conference tournament semifinals victory over Donovan Catholic, 15-14, scoring three runs in the top of the seventh for a 15- 9 lead before thwarting a Donovan Catholic comeback in the home seventh that fell just short. Alyssa Vetrano smashed four hits for three RBIs, while Kayla Gallo collected four hits and she, Liz Dorsa and Christine Gebhardt each batted in two runs — the latter two with three hits each.“It’s all about playing together as a team,” said Middletown North coach Mark Rosner, whose team actually won the A North championship the two previous seasons before Middletown South won it this year.The coach said four players showed their team spirit as they moved smoothly to new positions: freshman Vetrano from right field to third base, sophomore Ryan Rasmussen from third base to catcher, sophomore Gallo from catcher to right field and sophomore Dorsa recently going from left field to second base. Gallo leads the hitters with 11 home runs, a .530 batting average and 51 RBIs as the cleanup hitter.Nikki Alfano, the lone senior in the young lineup, at shortstop is an ideal leadoff hitter with 30 walks and 50 runs scored. She’s batting .430. Gebhardt, a junior first baseman, has 40 RBIs in the No. 3 spot in the order. Kernan has helped her own pitching with a .400 batting average. She has received support from a solid team defense that also includes juniors Payleigh Behan in center field and Wilton at second base.“It’s all about making plays, [Kernan] getting ahead on the [pitch] count and having patience at the plate,” Rosner said of the showdown against Middletown South. “I think we can hit with anybody in the Shore. The biggest thing is making plays.”A pair of victories and maybe a third one in a state final this weekend for Middletown South would be a sweet finale to a season in which Erbig nailed down his 700th victory. He’s up to 713 coming into this week, which is just eight behind the state’s all-time record.
By Steve KeatingFor weeks the Formula One world has been riveted on a feud between championship contenders Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton but after the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday the Mercedes team mates have another rivalry to worry about.After a difficult start to the season, Red Bull returned to the top of the podium when Australian Daniel Ricciardo claimed his maiden F1 win, bringing Mercedes perfect start to the season to an end after six consecutive victories and five straight one-two finishes.While the buildup to the Canadian Grand Prix was dominated by talk of a spat between the Mercedes drivers, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was warning that his team was not yet ready to throw in the towel and backed up the bravado on Sunday with Ricciardo’s win and third place finish from quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel.For the first time this campaign Mercedes faced real adversity as Hamilton was forced out after 46 laps with brake problems while Rosberg struggled with power problems half way through the race, then holding on for second place.“Now we will stick together as a team, analyse and understand what happened and come out of this situation even stronger,” said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff. “First of all, I must say I feel very sorry for Lewis.“His retirement was not his fault in any way and it is something the team has to take on the chin.“Both drivers were doing a great job.“Nico did a sensational job to get the car home, and it was a fantastic piece of damage limitation given how much power he was giving away to the other cars.”Certainly the weekend was not an entire write off for Mercedes.The team heads back to Europe for the Austrian Grand Prix on Red Bull’s home track in two weeks with Rosberg perched firmly atop the drivers’ standings on 140 points followed by Hamilton with 118 and Ricciardo a distant 61 points back in third.Mercedes also remains in firm command of the constructor’s standings leading with 258 points, almost double of Red Bull on 139.“I did the best that I could out there today and felt like I was having a strong race but unfortunately it just wasn’t our day,” said Hamilton, a three-time winner on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. “Montreal has been a good track for me so to come here and not finish is disappointing but there are plenty more races ahead of us this season so let’s hope for better fortune.“There was nothing I could do about our issues really.“It’s great for the team that Nico was able to hold on and get second place today but it’s tough for me. That’s two DNFs (did not finish) now this season and now I have to try and recover the points gap again.“But these are learning experiences: we’ll learn as a team and get stronger.”
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